First, consider this quote from a Senate GOP leadership aide, via Politico’s Mike Allen, regarding the Gang of Six proposal: “The President killed any chance of its success by 1) Embracing it. 2) Hailing the fact that it increases taxes. 3) Saying it mirrors his own plan.”
Is this another instance (See: Obama’s “grand bargain”) where the president wants to make House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) an offer he can’t accept? Only this time Obama would, at least in theory, have the majority of Senate Republicans on side, which would put Boehner under incredible political pressure to take the deal.
Obama has also pledged to veto any debt limit extension that doesn’t get him through the 2012 election. In fact, anything less would be just as bad as default, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney. But members of the Gang of Six, and supporters of the plan, say there is simply not enough time to draft the plan in legislative language and have it scored by the Congressional Budget Office in time for the August 2 “deadline.” That is why some have floated the idea of a short-term extension to allow lawmakers to hammer out the necessary details. But would that fly with the White House?
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.), a member of the Gang of Six, told reporters Wednesday that a five-month extension would be both sufficient and desirable in that it would allow the Gang’s proposal to be readied for a vote. It would be “helpful,” he said, if the president were to agree to one. “That would work with our plan,” he said. However, Chambliss doesn’t think it’s very likely to happen, saying “it’s up to leadership.”
Recall that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R., Va.) dust-up with the president occurred after Cantor repeatedly brought up the idea of a short-term debt increase. Cantor had previously vowed to only hold one vote to increase the debt ceiling in the House, but said he was willing to be flexible. The White House, on the other had, seems completely terrified of the political toll that multiple debt limit votes could inflict on Obama’s reelection prospects.